Lifting Big Weight Using Your Mind

By Quincy Tejani

I have often wondered whether we could gain strength more easily if the weight plates were all the same size and had no numbers on them. Or maybe if our lifting partner loaded up the bar without telling us how much weight is on there. Sound dangerous? Well yes, I suppose not knowing how much we are about to bench could cause some sort of injury, but it sure as hell would make the mental part of weightlifting a lot easier.

Hitting big bench numbers is easier when you have a good spotter

Hitting big bench numbers is easier when you have a good spotter

One time I miscalculated how much weight I was putting on the bar and made my lift five pounds heavier than I had intended. Guess what happened? I lifted the weight for the same amount of reps that I had hit with five pounds less on the previous set, although I thought that had been my max. What does this mean? It means that the mental part of lifting weight is just as important as the physical part. We psyche ourselves out. We have already failed before we really try to lift a weight that challenges us as much as we’d like.

If you were in a life-or-death situation you would probably be able to lift the weight on that bar. A lot of what is holding you back from improving is your lack of mental toughness. Make sure to always remember that it is overcoming the obstacles laid in place by your mind that is the most important part of increasing your lifts.

As the case with many of our goals, our confidence in completing the action is at least as important as our bodies’ physical ability. If you enter into a challenge with the idea that you will not succeed, then chances are very good you will not. Here are a couple of ways to mentally prepare for a lift so when you approach the bar you are all but assured success on your lift.

  • Get Pumped Up

There is a reason why powerlifters sniff ammonia before attempting a lift. It gets them riled up, their senses firing at maximum. Simply put, if your body senses are heightened then chances are you will be able to lift that damn weight. Pump yourself up with words like “This weight is nothing!” or “Light Weight Baby!” By doing this, you alter your mental state to a positive one.

  • Pretend

Ever heard of “fake it till you make it?” That means convincing yourself and others that you are able to do something (or are doing it) until they and, more importantly, you are convinced of your ability to succeed. This makes it almost a sure thing that you will. Pretend that you’ve already lifted this weight before. If you can truly convince yourself that you are about to lift a weight that you have already conquered, then mentally it will be a much easier task to overcome. Tell your lifting buddy to say: “It’s only 135 man, you can do it!” when actually the weight is heavier. Convincing yourself that you’ve done it before will give you that edge you need to succeed.

  • Don’t Sweat It

In the end, remember that it’s only weightlifting. Chances are very good that unless you are in a meet, you will get another chance at crushing this weight. It’s important to realize that failure is sometimes part of sport and if you take it too seriously then you will often feel like you are a failure, but that is far from the truth. Simply try your best to accomplish your goals and if you don’t do it today, then next session you are sure to get it!

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